If it wasn’t for the fact that he has gotten this far, the complete irresponsibility would be funny as hell!
During presidential candidate’s Donald Trump’s contentious press conference that he held Tuesday to address the recent controversy that there was not an account for the $6 million he claimed to raise for military veterans during a January event, Trump announced a list of charities he said he donated to, and despite him repeatedly saying that they have been vetted, at least two have had been accused of questionable practices in the past.
According to the list of charities Trump released, $75,000 was given to the Freedom Alliance, an organization founded in 1990 by Col. North which has as its primary function to aid wounded combat veterans. North was convicted of altering and destroying National Security Council documents, aiding and abetting the obstruction of a November 1986 congressional inquiry into the Iran-contra affair, where weapons were sold to Iran to help fund rebels fighting Nicaragua’s Socialist government. He was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. In 2003, Sean Hannity began promoting a tour of Freedom Concerts which were held annually and raised over $10 million for the Freedom Alliance.
In 2006, One People’s Project learned that Freedom Alliance spent at least 55% of its budget on its stated services, namely the soldiers that were to benefit from their charity. This was well below the 65% the Better Business Bureau says a legitimate charity should spend and the 75% charities usually spend. In 2010 right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel picked up the story and learned through tax records that soldiers saw less than 20%, 7% and 4% in some of those years, of the money that went to Freedom Alliance, while millions of dollars went to expenses, including consultants and to pay Hannity’s huge expenses during the concerts.
Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog organization has lowered Freedom Alliance’s rating from four stars – it’s highest rating – to two in the wake of the controversy. Although it returned to four stars the following year, Freedom Alliance’s current rating is once again two stars, fluctuating between three and two stars since 2012.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post later noted however that among those charities included the Foundation for American Veterans which received $75,000 from Trump despite generating an “alert” from the Better Business Bureau and criticisms noting that like Freedom Alliance, it spent only a fraction of its donations on veterans and the rest on “overhead” and fundraising. The group also is connected to a Michigan telemarketing firm that’s been accused of deceptive statements by the Minnesota attorney general, who filed suit with the group last week.
During the press conference, Trump repeatedly said that those he gave money to were being scrutinized before they received donations, which was the reason why those donations were delayed. “You have to go through a process, he said. “When you send checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars to people and to companies and to groups that you’ve never heard of, charitable organizations, you have to vet it. You send people out, you do a lot of work.”
On his Tuesday radio show, Sean Hannity broke a long-standing silence of his regarding the Freedom Alliance controversy and the role he played with the Freedom Concerts, which he has not held in several years. Echoing Trump’s sentiment that he was being attacked for trying to do something good without any fanfare – despite both Trump’s fundraising event and Hannity’s Freedom Concerts being heavily promoted, Hannity said he gave an account of the money that was received and none of it, despite assertions to the contrary, went to pay for his expenses. “I gave over a million dollars to military charities out of my pocket, he said. “For the Freedom Concerts, I spent almost that much money in terms of planes and hotels and all sorts of other expenses involved with it. I had to have people send out a press release that I did it because I was being accused of pocketing money. I paid for every meal. I paid for every plane. I paid for every hotel. I paid for everything.”
Coincidentally, just before this statement, Hannity suggested a hypothetical where if Trump did not vet these organizations what the media would say if a organization was revealed to have questionable financial practices. “You can’t win for losing,” he said.